What do I keep doing wrong?

Ilford FP4 125 - I used it once back in 2008 using my (then) Nikon F80 and it's built-in on-camera flash - I shot two rolls of it. The result were very flat with very few shades of anything near black - they were just washed out looking grey prints. I figured it was most likely me and my built in flash and lack of understanding about B&W film.

The rolls I had left from then have been in my fridge ever since (though still within their use by date, just), unused, as I've been too scared to use it since, despite learning lots since. Still, I had a need the other day and I know my photographic style and kit has improved since then too so I gave it a second try during a day out with friends. So, this time, I shot another roll of it using my Nikon F5 and SB-800 speedlight.

I was using aperture priority and centre-weighted metering with 75% metering concentrated within the circular area of the viewfinder which was always placed around the chest of the subjects. No compensation was used - it was outdoors and sunny with variable shades. Based on questions I've asked previously, I always tend to rate my films at less than their box speeds - typically 50% less, so if it's ISO100 I'll rate at EI50, or thereabouts. With this 125 film, I rated it at EI80 to try and ensure I got a denser negative than previously. My SB-800 was set at -1 power using TTL mode (not TTL-BL as I was only interested in the face or main subject) and the flash mode was SLOW+REAR so it just acted as fill in flash.

Sent the film off to the lab and back came my prints looking fairly poor again! Nothing like the results I've had with Acros & Neopan.

What on Earth am I doing wrong? Everything you read about this film tells me it's the best thing ever, yet I just fail with it every time - I don't have the same problems with Fuji Acros, Neopan, or any of the Fuji brands. Why does this Ilford FP4 125 keep taking my legs away?! It must be something I am doing wrong.

Picture here :







Ted